Playmaking Forward a Potential Option for Knicks to Trade Up for in NBA Draft

Scottie Barnes

Getty Scottie Barnes of Florida State

The New York Knicks have a lot to decide as the NBA draft nears.

With four picks in this year’s draft (Nos. 19, 21, 32 and 58), the Knicks have a good amount of flexibility. They can keep all four picks for themselves and add to their roster that way. Or they can package some or all of their picks in a trade to acquire another team’s player — perhaps Damian Lillard — and/or a higher draft pick.

Trading up seems like a likely scenario, and it would give the Knicks a better chance at selecting one of the draft’s better point guards — a position they need to upgrade.

If New York can move up high enough in the draft, then there is a chance they could get a playmaker in Florida State’s Scottie Barnes. According to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, he recently interviewed with the Knicks.

In numerous mock drafts — including CBS Sports and Yahoo Sports — Barnes has been projected to be selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the No. 6 pick.

Knowing this, the Knicks would likely have to give up a lot for a chance at the forward. But considering his size, playmaking ability and defense, Barnes could be worth making moves for.

Barnes’ Background

Barnes is the ACC’s reigning Freshman of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year. The 19-year-old forward played at Florida State for one season, mainly in a bench role. In 24 total games, he did get some experience as a starter, starting seven games. But, considering his Sixth Man of the Year honors, Barnes’ impact was primarily made as a member of the second unit.

His 10.3 points per game were third on the team, but his averages of 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game led the Seminoles.

At the NBA Draft Combine, Barnes’ height was measured at 6-feet, 8-inches tall with shoes and 6-feet, 7-inches without shoes.

Barnes’ Game

Barnes has been listed as a small forward/power forward. But considering his height and playmaking ability, Barnes is really a point forward — which NBC Sports Bay Area’s Drew Shiller pointed out. So his size would give him an advantage over smaller players running point in the league.

Barnes’ playmaking is advanced enough that Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports Washington referred to it as the forward’s biggest strength:

Barnes’ best offensive skill is his passing and ball handling. He’s at his best in transition when he’s able to grab a rebound, bring the ball up the floor with pace and either find teammates for open threes/layups or drive it all the way to the cup himself. This coupled with his defensive prowess is where the Draymond Green comparisons really start to make some sense.

Barnes, himself, has made a comparison between his and Green’s game during a virtual film session with Mike Schmitz of ESPN. He said that both he and the Golden State Warriors forward “bring that love and passion to the game.”

While at the Draft Combine, Barnes’ wingspan measured at nearly 7-feet, 3-inches. This will help him be a greater threat on the defensive end, especially if he were to go up against smaller perimeter players. Knowing of Tom Thibodeau’s affinity for defense, Barnes’ defensive potential could earn him some favor, particularly as a younger player.

During his lone season at Florida State, Barnes also shot an efficient 50.3% from the field.

Barnes’ Limitations

Barnes can do well on offense as a creator, but he needs to work on his own abilities as a shooter.

At Florida State, both Barnes’ shooting percentage on 3-pointers (27.5%) and free throws (62.1%) were signs of a need for improvement. Shooting is something that took note of as a weakness:

The biggest thing holding Barnes back from a higher selection is his inconsistent jump shooting…He is showing that he is more than capable of developing this shot, but inefficiency will hold him back until his perimeter game is a true threat

He attempted 40 total 3-pointers, so he has shown a willingness to shoot from long range. But Barnes needs to work on it to be more of a threat, especially considering the importance of 3-point shooting in today’s NBA. His 2.8 free throws per game also shows that the forward doesn’t get to the charity stripe much despite his size.

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